haworth churchyard
This week I was down in darkest West Riding checking out the pavé section of Stage Two of this year’s Tour de France. Not having a bike with me a wheeled laptop case served just as well. Compared to the kind of pebbly beach type pebbles of somewhere like Richmond Market Place or the sharp little so-and-sos of Dent High Street with which riders are familar here in the north of the county the cobbles of Haworth look like someone actually made them on purpose to go into a road surface rather than just dropped them in some wet mortar coming back from the river bed one day but these things are never great on wheels; car, bike or Samsonite. The upcoming Grand Départ is what Haworth, sitting high in the Pennines not far from the DMZ and beyond, Lancashire, is famous for, but subsidiary claims to historical significance include the Keighley and Worth Valley Line where The Railway Children was filmed and, for those few stony hearted folks for whom bike racing and Jenny Agutter’s father appearing through the steam do not cover the full range of human emotion, there are the Brontë Sisters who lived much of their lives in the village. The Parsonage where a twenty-something daughter of an Ulster preacher gave the Yorkshire moors a human voice is a place of pilgimage for those who like their novels as black as their expresso but the tearooms and souvenir shops of Main Street don’t really reflect the Haworth of 150 years ago, or even the Haworth outside of that one street of today, but after the day is done and as the light fades you can put on your Nikes and take a run out through the churchyard which those lasses looked out on every morning when they drew the curtains to let in the sun and every evening when they pulled them back to shut out the night, head up over Penistone Hill, cross the road which leads down to the reservoir and follow the track past the derelict farmhouse towards the falls and then up onto the moor where from Top Withens you would be able to see just about forever if it wasn’t nearly dark and you can still hear the same wind in the same grass, smell the same dampness in the air, and feel the same chill through your bones and through your soul that could be felt by those that came up here those three short lifetimes ago.


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